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  • The Mayor has rejected the Government’s proposal that the Congestion Charge be extended

    Sadiq Khan’s response

    The Mayor has rejected the Government’s proposal that the Congestion Charge be extended to the North and South Circular roads in October 2021.

    This was a condition that the Government tried to impose in return for the second round of emergency Government funding for TfL. This funding was necessary because TfL’s fare income has collapsed due to Covid-19.

    Under the Government’s proposal, the £15 Congestion Charge would have been extended to the North and South Circular Roads next year, meaning that all journeys across the North and South Circular roads and journeys within that area would have been subject to the charge within operating hours. It would have hit four million more Londoners hard and put economic recovery from Covid-19 at risk before it had begun. The Mayor is pleased that the Government has now backed down from this condition.

    In the face of continued Covid-19 restrictions, the Mayor has now reached a funding deal to keep tube, bus and other TfL services running until March 2021. Extending the Congestion Charge in this way was only one of several conditions the Government sought to impose in order for TfL to receive the further emergency funding it needs to keep the network running. Others included removing free travel for under-18s and over-60s and increasing fares by more than the previously agreed RPI+1 per cent. These proposals have also been successfully defeated, although it was a condition of the funding that fares would have to go up by RPI+1 in January.

    Whilst the deal reached is not ideal, the Mayor fought hard against the Government, which was determined to punish Londoners with higher costs for doing the right thing to tackle Covid-19. The only reason TfL needs Government support is because its fares income has almost dried up since March, as people did what was asked of them and stayed at home.

    It should be noted that the Congestion Charge is different to the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) charge. At present, the ULEZ charge currently applies to the same area as the Congestion Charge in central London and is specifically designed to clean up London’s toxic air and deliver health benefits to Londoners. It is due to be expanded in October of next year to the North and South Circular but the charge will only apply to highly polluting vehicles. TfL modelling shows that only 1 in 5 vehicles will need to pay this charge. This is due to the fact that all other vehicles that travel in this area are compliant with the ULEZ emissions standards.

    If you want to check whether your vehicle meets the ULEZ standard you can do so using TfL’s vehicle checker. If you are on a low income or are disabled, the Mayor also has a Car and Motorcycle Scrappage scheme, whereby you could receive up to £2000 to scrap your older, polluting vehicle, so that you can purchase a cleaner vehicle and meet the standards or switch to another mode of transport. You can check your eligibility for this scheme on TfL’s scrappage scheme webpage. The ULEZ scheme is specifically designed to clean up London’s toxic air and deliver health benefits to Londoners.

    I hope this reassures you that the Mayor has succeeded in defeating the Government proposal to extend the £15 Congestion Charge to the North and South Circular roads next year.

    Yours sincerely

    Public Liaison Unit
    Greater London Authority

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  • A List To Live By

    A List To Live By

    Okay, this list isn’ perfect.  Some of these bullet points may be a little cheesy, and there are a few too many “God” comments.  However, you caught me a little drunk on a friday night, because right now I think this is a fairly decent list to live by.

    1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
    2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
    3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
    4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
    5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
    6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
    7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
    8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He or she can take it and i have no problem with the she.
    9. Save for retirement starting with your first pay.
    10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
    11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
    12. Its OK to let your children see you cry.
    13. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
    14 If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
    15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks.
    16. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.
    17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.
    18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.
    19. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
    20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
    21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
    22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
    23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
    24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
    25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
    26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years will it matter?”
    27. Always choose life.
    28. Forgive everyone for everything.
    29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
    30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
    31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
    32. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your family will. 
    33. Believe in miracles.
    34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.
    35. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
    36. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.
    37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.
    38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.
    39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
    40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.
    41. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
    42. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
    43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
    44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
    45. The best is yet to come.
    46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
    47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
    48. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
    49. Yield.
    50. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.

     

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  • Covid-19: Nottingham party students fined £40,000

    Four university students have been fined £10,000 each after telling police who broke up their house party they were "spoiling their fun".

     

    Officers on patrol spotted a party in Lenton, Nottingham, on Tuesday night but were told everyone had left.

    But inside they found more than 30 people hiding and, when challenged, organisers complained they should be having the "time of their lives".

    Nottingham Trent University said the third-year students had been suspended.

    Mixing of households indoors has been banned since Nottingham went into tier two restrictions on 14 October.

    On Tuesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said talks over moving Nottinghamshire into tier three were "ongoing" but the city council's leader said no discussions had started.

    Nottingham had the highest level of infection in England for nine days running, with many of the cases centring on areas with a high student population.

    Police said after being told the party in Kimbolton Avenue had ended, officers found people hiding in the kitchen, upstairs bedrooms and basement.

    Assistant Chief Constable Kate Meynell said the people at the property had shown a "blatant disregard for the safety of those around them".

    "This needs to stop. The claims that police presented as a barrier to the students' fun are astounding," she said.

    "How many fines do we have to give before the message is understood? We do not take pleasure in handing out fines and would much rather be in a situation where students could enjoy themselves but the reality is that if people do not follow the Covid-19 restrictions, more people will die."

    A spokesperson for Nottingham Trent University said: "Any student who is found to have breached our disciplinary regulations can face a range of sanctions, up to and including expulsion."

    Infection rate drops again

    The coronavirus infection rate for Nottingham has dropped again compared to the same time a week earlier.

    In the seven days up to 18 October there were 2,012 new cases, down from 3,085 in the previous weekly period.

    The rate of infection per 100,000 people has also gone down from 926.7 in the week up to 11 October to 604.4.

    For a third day, the city has the second highest rate in England, behind Knowsley in Merseyside.

     

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  • London drivers could have to pay £27.50 a day Congestion charge, Congestion charge could be expanded into Clapham, Stockwell, Peckham, Lewisham, Wandsworth

    A deal to provide emergency funding to Transport for London (TfL) could rely on the expansion of London’s congestion charge zone.

    Currently, the congestion charge operates in central London, covering the same area as the capital’s ultra-low-emission zone (ULEZ).

     

    However, an initial bailout from the Government in the wake of the coronavirus crisis has already seen prices increased and its hours of operation extended.

    It now applies from 7am to 10pm, seven days a week, while drivers must pay £15, rather than £11.50, to enter the zone. 

    At the time, TfL described that as a ‘temporary’ price increase as a result of a funding agreement between the Government and the transport authority.

    It secured a £1.6 billion bailout from the Government after warning it could have to cut services.

    TfL has asked for a £5.7bn package to prop up services for the next 18 months, after passenger numbers and revenues have fallen after the March lockdown.

    An interim funding measure was agreed for the next fortnight with ministers last Friday, but the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has hit out at Government proposals for further TfL funding.

    He labelled the plans “ill-advised and draconian”, and warned it would “punish Londoners for doing the right thing to tackle Covid-19”.

    The extension to the £15 congestion charge zone would go live in October next year, when the expanded ULEZ is also introduced due to be introduced covering the same area.

    It would see the zone expanded to cover approximately four million more Londoners.

    The Mayor also says that the Government wants to increase TfL fares by more than RPI+1%.

    A further Government proposal is to introduce a new council tax precept charge in the capital ­­– effectively increasing council tax by an as yet unspecified amount for all Londoners, regardless of whether they use public transport, claims Khan.

    He said: "I simply cannot accept this Government plan, which would hit Londoners with a triple whammy of higher costs at a time when so many people are already facing hardship.

    "The Government should be supporting Londoners through this difficult time – not making ill-advised and draconian proposals which will choke off our economic recovery.

    "Ministers already forced TfL to bring forward proposals to increase the cost and hours of the congestion charge in May – now they want to expand it to cover four million more Londoners.

    "They also want to significantly increase fares in London and hit all Londoners with a regressive new tax.

    "It is clear that difficult choices lie ahead to plug the huge gap the pandemic left in TfL's finances. I have been ready to talk with Government about how the necessary funds can be raised – but a proposal which singles out Londoners for punishment is completely unacceptable, as well as making no economic sense.

    "I urge Ministers to come back to the table with a revised proposal which does not punish Londoners for doing the right thing to tackle Covid-19 – and to publish their review into TfL's finances in full. I remain ready to talk."

    The Department for Transport (DfT) says talks over a settlement were ongoing.

    London's drivers could soon be forced to stump up £27.50 each day as part of a Government bailout of TfL.

    Sadiq Khan claims ministers are demanding he extends the £15 congestion zone to the North and South circulars as a condition for financial support.

     

     

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  • Skepta, JME, Julie ... are the Adenugas Britain's most creative family?

    Skepta, JME, Julie ... are the Adenugas Britain's most creative family?

    Skepta, JME, Julie and Jason – the four Adenuga siblings – are laughing as they remember building a go-kart as kids, raiding the factory next door for crates and pallets, their father’s toolbox for screwdrivers and bolts, wheels from a discarded pushchair, and making steering mechanisms from string.

    “If you wanted something and it wasn’t there, you just made it,” says Jason. When they finished, they dragged their kart to the top of a hill by the estate, and Skepta remembers, “going down there with the biggest joy in my heart”, thinking to himself: “This life, man, you can just make what you want. You don’t need to buy anything.”

    That has been the guiding mantra for a family who could lay a claim to the title of the most creative clan in Britain. In the past decade, the two older brothers and famed MCs, Skepta and JME, steered grime’s second wave, helping to build the success of British rap via their record label Boy Better Know. They have played huge stages at Glastonbury and Wireless, while Skepta has won the Mercury prize, scored three Top 3 albums, launched his own fashion brand and been the subject of tabloid dating gossip from Naomi Campbell to fellow Tottenham star Adele.

    Julie, the third-born child, swiftly went from presenting on Rinse FM to being announced as one of three main presenters on Apple’s radio station Beats 1. The youngest sibling, Jason, was a producer on Skepta’s album Konnichiwa and, as a graphic designer and artist, has made album covers for both his brothers. A new memoir by their mother, Ify Adenuga, Endless Fortune, explains how they got here. It was drawn from diaries she kept about “any little culture shock I experienced” as a Nigerian immigrant bringing up her kids on a London council estate.

    Today the family of six, completed by husband and father, Joseph Sr, are gathered around a table in a photo studio. The children arrived in tracksuits and shorts, their parents in regal traditional Nigerian dress. “When I read the book,” Julie says, “I realised that Mum was a person. You haven’t changed, I know you as ‘Mum’, but you’ve been like this from early – it’s always been you.”

    The early chapters capture memories of Nigeria sinking into civil war. Ify was 10 when the country fractured along ethnic lines in 1967: the Igbo people and other ethnic groups in the south and eastern regions seceded, calling their new country Biafra. Her early chapters are a frank account of that chaotic period, as her Igbo family fled Lagos for their homelands with 13 of them in the back of a pickup truck, Ify cramped under a tarpaulin hearing Nigerian soldiers at checkpoints telling her father: “Shut up or I’ll shoot you.”

    The fighting stretched over two and a half years, claiming more than 100,000 lives. A Nigerian blockade cut Biafra off from food, aid and oil. Ify remembers how “there was nothing to eat”, how farmers “tilled the land, two or three consecutive seasons going”, until “nothing would come out of it”. Villages in the new Biafra were haunted by kwashiorkor, a severe case of malnutrition that swells the stomach and slowly kills those who have it, including two of Ify’s siblings.

    An estimated two million people died of starvation, a time so bereft of hope that Ify remembers how young men fled the villages to join the Biafran resistance on the frontlines, the wail of missiles a reprieve from the slow death of hunger and famine. In Endless Fortune, Ify writes: “Death became the boogieman that visited us every other week to steal one of us … I almost lost the will to live.”

    When the war was over and Biafra surrendered, uneasily reuniting Nigeria, Ify moved back to Lagos for work before flying to the UK in 1980. She hopped between relatives, cleaning the Bank of Illinois in the City of London for £11 a week. Those relatives advised her to head home, warning her London would be harder than Nigeria, but she enrolled to study business management and met Joseph when both worked shifts at the Top Rank bingo club. By the early 90s they were married with four children, living streets away from the Broadwater Farm estate where riots had broken out in 1985. “We didn’t know what a socially deprived area meant,” she says. “It didn’t register with us – we were just there to get a job and look after our kids.”

    Nonetheless, Ify writes that “it was difficult at times to keep the roof over our heads”. Struggling to meet mortgage payments, they lost their first home in Tottenham and were rehoused by the council on the nearby Meridian estate. Growing up, the Adenuga house was a Nigerian enclave in 90s Britain: brooms were woven from straw, and their father would DJ house parties into the early hours. Skepta says of that time: “The moment you step out of your house, you step into a different world. Your friends, the people around you, they could live next door to you, it doesn’t matter, they don’t understand what’s happening behind that door.”

    Skepta in concert.
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     Skepta in concert. Photograph: Dave Burke/Rex/Shutterstock

    As the eldest, he was handed “this big chore”, he says, “to have an understanding of both lines. It took me so long to navigate through that – going outside, having that life, then coming inside and having this life.” Julie also remembers the frustrations of low-income living, her frustration at being unable to replace broken dishwashers and vacuum cleaners, thinking that “life is getting long because we don’t have money”.

    Early in the millennium, grime was emerging, evolving out of UK garage and drawing on Jamaican sound system culture to become the soundtrack of Britain’s inner cities. When the sound took hold in north London with pirate radio stations such as Heat FM, boys from Meridian – JME and Skepta among them – were on the frontlines. Their freestyles and radio sets were captured on grainy DVDs, their skittish flows throwing up portraits of their lives as they sliced through growling, often Skepta-produced instrumentals.

    Jason would see his brothers build beats on their PlayStation and soon followed, at the same time developing a love of drawing that he has “held forever”, after finding a folder JME had of anime drawings and feeling like “this is what I want to do: drawing and copying all day”.

    Their creative gifts flourished – Ify tells of the boys flying in and out of the house to pirate radio sessions and gathering with friends in the front room, reciting lyrics deep into the night. Julie studied performing arts, feeling that “my creativity didn’t manifest in the way that these three did. Part of me is a little bit sad about it. They did it kind of blindly, like it didn’t matter what else was going on. I felt like I always had to protect everyone and be of service. As much as I didn’t want to stand out as the only girl, I couldn’t really do anything about it – I ended up being the middle child who is the facilitator.”

    JME on stage in 2009.
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     JME on stage in 2009. Photograph: Ollie Millington/Redferns

    They inherited their creative spark from their father, who had studied architecture, and as a child in Nigeria would craft yo-yos from beer cans and string. “Back home there was no money – you don’t get toys,” he says. Growing up, the kids watched him build things from scratch, such as a desk for Julie, and repairing fridges and freezers. “They got all that skill, knowledge, creativity from him,” Ify says, sat next to her husband. “They got their personality and being themselves from me.”

    JME continues: “What Mum and Dad gave us was the power of imagination. There was so many things that they imagined and made happen. Now, if I’m in my house and I want to lay the garage flooring down, I just look on YouTube and think, ah, I’ll just do it myself.”

    Throughout their careers they’ve expressed the nuanced realities of Nigerian life in Britain. In 2007, Skepta covered the classic west African highlife song Sweet Mother, infusing the gentle percussion-led productions with jittery grime, and rapped about Nigerian delicacies in 2019 on Greaze Mode: “I’m gonna need some palm wine / I’m gonna need some pepper soup.”

    When Skepta’s fourth album, Konnichiwa, won the Mercury prize in 2016, Ify was by his side on stage in traditional Nigerian attire, the kind of clothing usually reserved for African hall parties and weddings. A couple of years later, in 2018, when Julie presented the music outlet GRM Daily’s annual Rated Awards, she wore the same.

    Julie at Wireless festival in 2018.
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     Julie at Wireless festival in 2018. Photograph: Tabatha Fireman/Getty Images

    Recently, the Adenuga family have deepened their roots. On a trip back to Nigeria, Skepta was ordained as a chief in his father’s village. He remembers seeing young boys dangling their legs from the top of freight trucks driving the roads into the village, and it made him reflect on the life his father had left behind. “That was the last level I needed to make both outside and inside the house make sense,” he says.

    Ify and Joseph Sr are grandparents – JME and Skepta have daughters. Julie, who has left Apple Music and started her #JuliesTop5 music discussion series on YouTube, describes their births as “the two happiest days of my life”. They all remember an afternoon in late 2018 when the boys broke the news of the pregnancies. Skepta arrived at the home to tell the family, followed a few hours later by JME and his wife, who were unaware of what had happened. When the coincidence set in, Julie was crying and Ify was on the floor. Joseph Sr stood in the kitchen, shaking his head in disbelief, thinking: “This is mad.”

    “It was spooky,” Jason says. “That day was a real life thing, it peaked.” Skepta adds: “It was almost like the feeling when someone dies that’s close to you, but the opposite, and it’s two people.”

    JME was typically calm amid the melee. To raise his daughter, he says, he’s pulling on the values he was raised with, using “all the positives from my childhood. You don’t need to buy your kids a life, you literally just build it with them.”

     Endless Fortune by Ify Adenuga is co-published by Boy Better Know and Own It!, RRP £18.99. To order a copy for £16.52, go to guardianbookshop.com. Free UK p&p on all online orders over £15.

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